What The Heck Is … That Flagpole And Marker Off I-25 North Of Wheatland?

That memorial at mile marker 91 of Interstate 25 north of Wheatland is for Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper Chris Logsdon, who was killed in the line of duty Oct. 13, 1998.

GJ
Greg Johnson

October 09, 202310 min read

A sign, marker and flag memorialize Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper Chris Logsdon, who was killed Oct. 13, 1988, in a crash while responding to a wrong-way driver on Interstate 25 near Wheatland, Wyoming.
A sign, marker and flag memorialize Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper Chris Logsdon, who was killed Oct. 13, 1988, in a crash while responding to a wrong-way driver on Interstate 25 near Wheatland, Wyoming. (Courtesy Photo)

It’s almost impossible to miss — a crisp, vibrant American flag snapping atop a pole from an immaculately maintained stone marker set off by a wrought-iron fence.

It’s alone near mile marker 91 on the southbound side of Interstate 25 near Wheatland on the main route from Cheyenne to Casper.

What could be just another anonymous marker memorializing some senseless death on a Wyoming highway is anything but that. It does mark the spot of a death on the interstate, but don’t tell anyone who ever knew Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper Chris Logsdon that his was senseless.

This memorial is for Logsdon, who died there in the line of duty nearly 25 years ago.

A Story Of Sacrifice

Nobody now working at the Wyoming Highway Patrol’s Wheatland outpost ever served with or knew Trooper Logsdon, but they’re nonetheless bonded through their service.

That’s why they continue to take care of the site memorializing the trooper who died there on Oct. 13, 1998, responding to a report of an impaired driver going the wrong direction on I-25.

Logsdon swerved to avoid oncoming traffic while trying to catch up with the wrong-way driver, lost control and crashed his patrol vehicle. It rolled multiple times, and Logsdon died.

Not long after the crash, the other driver was caught, who turned out to be an elderly man who was confused and suffering a mental episode.

“That marker is the approximate location of the crash and that’s our memorial to him,” said Lt. Andrew Frye of the WHP District 2 station in Wheatland. “I was just out there tending the flag earlier this week. That’s one of the things we do is tend to this site.”

While Frye and others at the post never knew Logsdon, that doesn’t matter. He was a brother trooper who died in the line of duty, Frye said.

“It’s a reminder every time we drive by and we see it of what the job we’ve chosen could cost us,” he said. “It makes us think about and reaffirm the reasons why we get in this line of work. It’s a stark and sobering reminder that here, and everywhere, law enforcement is a dangerous job.”

Keeping the memorial maintained, including frequently changing the flags because of Wyoming’s notorious winds, “is the least we can do,” Frye said. “Even though we didn’t know him, it’s the least we can do to honor him and the sacrifice he made.”

  • Trooper Chris Logsdon
    Trooper Chris Logsdon (Courtesy Photo)
  • Part of the memorial for Trooper Chris Logsdon.
    Part of the memorial for Trooper Chris Logsdon. (Courtesy Photo)

A Story Of Service And Faith

Frye and the other troopers from his old post may not remember Logsdon, but Kay Layher Logsdon does all too well.

She and Chris were planning to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary when he died. And while she and their four children miss their husband and father every day, Kay said she’s also bolstered by Chris’ sense of service to others and their strong faith in Jesus.

“The truth of the matter is, it’s a memorial to a very great sacrifice, and that sacrifice happens to be my first husband,” Kay, who still lives in Douglas, told Cowboy State Daily. “He was a remarkable man, and we have four outstanding children.”

Chris’ drive to serve his community and others began long before his becoming a Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper. That was his second career, what he chose to do after retiring from a 21-year career in the Army.

He retired as a 1st Sergeant, “and a right fine-looking 1st sergeant he way,” Kay said.

“He was a servant all his life,” she said. “He served in the military, he served with the Highway Patrol and he, like his savoir Jesus Christ, served until the very end.

“That memorial means a very great deal to me and my family. That was his stopping point before he got to glory. … He was an outstanding citizen, he was an excellent husband and father. Above and beyond all of that, he loved Jesus Christ.”

‘It Was An Absolutely Gorgeous Afternoon’

Although it’s been 25 years since Chris’ death, Kay said she remembers that day vividly, like it’s suspended in a time that seems so far distant and immediately close at the same time.

She was preparing for Chris to come home so the family could have one of their favorite summertime dinners — BLT sandwiches.

“It was an absolutely gorgeous afternoon of Indian summer,” she said. “We were going to the store to make bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches. When we got home, I saw a patrol car coming.”

Her first thought was Chris was coming home.

“I said, ‘Oh, daddy’s on his way!’” Kay recalled. “But then I noticed it wasn’t his car. The one that was pulling up wasn’t his, and I knew something was wrong. My heart spoke to me, and I noticed my pastor was in the car with his sergeant.

“I thought, ‘He’s hurt, he’s hurt.’ I told the girls to stay in the house. Then when they pulled up they had both been crying, I could tell.”

They broke the news every military and law enforcement spouse dreads more than anything to get.

“They told me he was gone, and I did not believe it,” she said. “I was like, ‘No, he just left the house a few hours ago.’ But that wasn’t the case. It took until I saw the body for it to sink in. I would bounce between being irrational and denying what was happening.”

During that whirlwind, Kay said her phone rang. It was their oldest daughter, who was grown and living out of state.

“She just said, ‘Mom, something’s wrong, terribly wrong,’” Kay said. “The Holy Spirit told her something was not right. She called me because she could not shake that feeling.”

Kay admits it took several years to come to grips with the crash that took her husband’s life, but that she firmly believes he’s part of a larger Heavenly plan.

  • Troopers salute after changing the flag at a marker memorializing the active-duty death of Trooper Chris Logsdon off I-25 near Wheatland, Wyoming.
    Troopers salute after changing the flag at a marker memorializing the active-duty death of Trooper Chris Logsdon off I-25 near Wheatland, Wyoming. (Courtesy Wyoming Highway Patrol)
  • Trooper Chris Logsdon's memorial.
    Trooper Chris Logsdon's memorial. (Courtesy Photo)
  • For 25 years, the Wheatland outpost of the Wyoming Highway Patrol has keep up the memorial marker for Trooper Chris Logsdon.
    For 25 years, the Wheatland outpost of the Wyoming Highway Patrol has keep up the memorial marker for Trooper Chris Logsdon. (Courtesy Photo)

A Story Of Forgiveness

The man who caused the crash that killed Trooper Chris Logsdon was 91 and obviously in some kind of distress while driving that day, Kay said.

And she chose to do something many in her position wouldn’t consider, but Kay said she doesn’t regret. She sought out the man at his home in Nebraska to tell him she forgave him.

“It was so sad. He wasn’t drunk at all. He was a disoriented 91-year-old man who was at least two hours away from his home,” she said. “They put him in jail, but I begged them to let him out. My heart was torn for him and his little wife.”

Kay went to their home “to tell them it was an accident,” she said.

His wife, who was 89, answered the door and called for her husband. What surprised Kay was even at his advanced age and obviously suffering from dementia, the man was still impressive.

“He was a giant of a man and just as ramrod straight as a basketball player would be as a teenager,” she said.

While Kay talked with them, she could tell that who she was and why she was there registered with the man at some level “even though I know he had a lot of dementia going on,” she said. “He took my hand and said he was sorry.”

That’s when Kay said she knew she’d made the right decision.

“As soon as he had that clarity of mind, it went away, and he turned and walked back to his room,” Kay said. “I didn’t hold any hard feelings. It was what it was. I could see it in his face and when he took my hand and told me he was very, very sorry, I knew he knew who I was.

“I didn’t want them to have that weight over them. I wanted to say to them that Jesus loved them and I didn’t hold them accountable for his death.”

Chris and Kay Logsdon before Chris, a Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper, was killed in the line of duty on Oct. 13, 1998.
Chris and Kay Logsdon before Chris, a Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper, was killed in the line of duty on Oct. 13, 1998. (Photo Courtesy Kay Lather Logsdon)

Service, Still

Along the pavement stretches of Wyoming’s vast open expanses, there are plenty of other memorials for those killed along the way. Homemade crosses, small piles of stuffed animals and flowers or simple ribbons tied to mile marker posts all mean the same thing — someone died here.

For the past 25 years, Kay Layher Logsdon said that when she sees these memorials, she takes it personal.

“Immediately, I remember pain and my heart goes out to others who I know have had that same pain,” she told Cowboy State Daily. “I say to myself, ‘Lord, this has caused somebody some grief, please help them.’ I hope for those other people who put those little crosses and all those flowers. My heart goes out to them every time.”

In the case of Chris, she knows most will simply cruise past his memorial on their way to or from wherever they’re going on I-25. But she hopes “they would recognize that lives were changed forever that day.”

“My hope is people would remember him not only as a servant to his state and community here in Douglas, but to his savior,” she added.

Kay doesn’t tire of telling her husband’s story and hopes people will tell others about him so there always will be an answer when people ask what the heck is that neatly tended memorial and flag near Wheatland off I-25?

Want to know what the heck something is in Wyoming? Ask Managing Editor Greg Johnson and he’ll try to find out. Send your “What the heck is …” questions to him, along with high-quality horizontal photos of whatever it is to Greg@CowboyStateDaily.com.

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GJ

Greg Johnson

Managing Editor

Veteran Wyoming journalist Greg Johnson is managing editor for Cowboy State Daily.